HomeKitchenShould a Fridge Be Turned Off When Not In Use?

Should a Fridge Be Turned Off When Not In Use?

One of the common questions that pop up when it comes to leaving home appliances unused for some time is whether we should unplug them or leave them on. Unplugging appliances is a common practice, and it saves electricity, but it is not always the best option.

Unplugging your fridge when it is not in use will save you money on electricity, but simply unplugging it without preparation can cause a lot of issues. In some situations, it is better to leave it on to prevent food from spoiling and the growth of mould or mildew. Ideally, a refrigerator should remain plugged in for effective and consistent functioning.

Let’s explore when you should turn the fridge off, and when it’s best to leave it on. 

Should a Fridge Be Turned Off When Not in Use?

If you don’t plan to use your fridge for more than a month, it is recommended to turn it off, remove all food, and clean it thoroughly – you can use a baking soda solution (1 tablespoon of baking soda per 1 quart of water). Make sure to turn off the circuit breaker or the fuse that supplies power to the fridge or unplug the fridge from the wall receptacle.

When the interior is dry, place an open box of baking soda inside and leave the doors open. That way, any residual food odours, mould, and mildew will be prevented.

However, if you are going to be away for a month or less, we recommend that you leave it running. You can leave the temperature on the usual settings if there is still food in the fridge, or you can set the thermostat to a warmer temperature if you have removed the food and want to save energy.

Make sure to turn the icemaker off (if there is one) and turn off any water supply to the fridge. 

If the fridge and freezer compartments are less than half full, you can place a few bags of ice or water inside to help maintain the internal temperature and reduce compressor operation time.

How Long Can You Leave a Fridge Turned Off?

A fridge can be turned off for a long time if you don’t plan to use it. Turning it off stops the compressor, and the cooling agent settles. Being in an “off” state doesn’t harm the fridge, so there is no limit to how long it can stay turned off. However, make sure to follow the proper storage guidelines.

If you plan to turn off your fridge without removing the food currently inside it, 4-6 hours is fine. Keeping the fridge turned off for more than 6 hours risks bacteria developing in your food and makes it unsafe to eat.

If you remove the food and turn off the refrigerator for a long time, clean it and keep the door open so that the air inside can circulate. This prevents any odours. This is in fact the only time when leaving the fridge door open is a good thing. 

When you decide to turn the fridge back on, wait 24 hours after moving it to turn it on, and another 24 hours before placing any food inside if it is sensitive to temperature changes (like eggs and dairy products).

Should You Turn Off a Fridge to Save Electricity?

It makes sense to turn off a fridge to save electricity if you plan to be away for a month or more. It also reduces the risk of any electrical fires while you are away. However, since fridges are designed for 24/7 use, turning them off daily to save electricity could result in spoilt food.

If you plan to be away for a long time, then it is recommended that you unplug your fridge and follow the guidelines I’ve listed to make sure you store it properly.

How Often Should You Turn Off Your Fridge?

It is not necessary to regularly turn off your fridge unless there is a specific need or situation that requires it. 

Some cases in which you might consider turning off your fridge are:

·    Cleaning: You can turn off your fridge temporarily if you want to clean it thoroughly.

·    Extended absence: If you are going away for an extended time, you can turn the fridge off to save energy. Make sure to remove all foods before doing so.

·    Maintenance or repairs: If maintenance or repairs are required on your fridge, you may need to turn it off temporarily. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek professional assistance to ensure the proper procedures are followed.

What Happens If a Fridge is Switched Off Daily at Night?

Although switching off your fridge each night might sound compelling when you think about the electricity it would save, it could result in more harm than benefit. While the fridge is designed to keep food cold for a couple of hours, even without electricity, leaving it off for a longer time increases the chance of harmful bacteria developing.

Forgetting to plug it in or sleeping in and leaving it off for a long time will result in a temperature rise and bacteria will start to multiply in it rapidly.

When bacteria does develop, the food starts to spoil and becomes dangerous for consumption. Sometimes you might not notice that it has begun to spoil, and if you eat it, you could get food poisoning.

Therefore, there are more than a few reasons not to turn off your fridge at night.

Does Unplugging a Fridge Damage It?

Unplugging the fridge does not damage it or any of its parts. Like any other kitchen appliance, a fridge can be safely unplugged when you plan to be away for some time.

However, be careful when plugging it back in because the fridge’s compressor produces a lot of pressure while the refrigerator is running. Plugging in the fridge immediately after unplugging could damage the compressor due to the pressure build-up.

The damage occurs because the compressor starts overloading, working extra hard to continue circulating the coolant through the appliance.

To avoid damaging your fridge, keep it unplugged for at least 15 minutes before plugging it back in. Leaving it off for a while decreases the pressure and restores the compressor to its normal working conditions.

Is It Better to Store a Fridge On Or Off?

Storing a fridge on or off also depends on the amount of time you won’t be using it. If you will be away for over a month, then it is better to turn it off and then store it. Otherwise, it is more efficient to keep it on.

If you need to move the fridge, you can’t do it until it has cooled to room temperature and the freezer compartment has completely defrosted. Make sure to turn off the fridge the night before you plan to store it. This will allow the coolant inside to settle, preventing damage during transport.

Follow the steps below to prepare your fridge for storage:

·    Step 1: Switch the fridge off the night before transport.

·    Step 2: Clean and disinfect the fridge inside and out. Remove all the food and clean your fridge to prevent food residue from warming up. If bacteria starts developing, there is a risk of unpleasant odours.

·    Step 3: Ensure the fridge is completely dry before storing it. If any water is left, mould and mildew could develop while it is in storage.

·    Step 4: Move the fridge carefully. Avoid damaging it by wrapping it in protective blankets, or use a moving trolley to transport it.

·    Step 5: Always keep the fridge upright. Laying it on the side could cause damage to its parts.

·    Step 6: Store the fridge in a purpose-built, clean, and dry storage facility. Keeping it in a humid environment can cause mould to appear.

When Is It Worth Unplugging a Fridge?

It’s only worth unplugging a fridge if you plan to be away for a month or more. Modern refrigerators are designed to be energy-efficient and consume less power when operating at optimal levels. 

While keeping the fridge on uses electricity, the energy consumption is generally lower than having to cool it down again if it has been off for an extended period.

Will a Fridge Leak If You Unplug It?

A fridge will not leak if you unplug it, but there are some matters to attend to which prevent leaks altogether. For example, if your fridge has a defrost feature, the drains that remove water from the freezer will keep functioning for a while after the fridge has been unplugged. If the drains are clogged, the fridge could leak, so make sure to check them if you are unplugging the fridge.

Another thing to check is the condensation pan, which collects the condensed humidity from the fridge. The collected water then evaporates from the pan using the heat of the motor. However, if you unplug the fridge, the water may keep filling the pan, and without heat from the motor, it will evaporate much slower. That means it could overflow. Check the pan by removing it from your fridge and dump out any water to prevent overflows.

The last thing to do is to make sure you turn off your ice maker and empty the tray. Unplugging the fridge means that any ice in the ice maker will melt, which means it will leak out. Prevent it by thoroughly cleaning your ice maker if you want to unplug your fridge.

What To Do When Unplugging a Fridge

When you are unplugging your fridge, make sure that the plug is removed from the wall socket. If you just turn off the socket, your fridge will still be connected to the electricity source.

Make sure that you remove all the food from the fridge. Leaving food in an unplugged fridge for more than 4 hours results in bacterial development, making it dangerous for consumption.

If there is food in the freezer, it can stay in there for up to 48 hours until it becomes unsafe for consumption.

Make sure to thoroughly clean and dry your fridge to prevent unpleasant odours or mould from appearing.

Wrapping Up 

While turning the fridge off to save electricity might sound like a good idea, it’s in fact better to leave it on unless you will be away for more than a month. Remember to clean your fridge regularly to keep it in good working order and ensure the food you store in it remains safe. 


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